Dispute Resolution & Litigation

The law functions to resolve disputes. It establishes a set of rules so that people can manage different sorts of disputes privately. When one or other of the parties does not voluntarily comply with the rules, then courts have the power to force compliance. When there are no set rules that apply to a particular dispute, or when it is not clear how the rules apply to a given situation, then the parties may need to ask a court or tribunal to decide the outcome.

If you have an unresolved conflict, whether it is the result of deadlocked negotiations or disagreement about money or something else, then familiarising yourself with your dispute resolution options and the litigation process will help you to make the best choices. We can help with a range of legal disputes.

What is Dispute Resolution?

Dispute Resolution is a term that covers the management of a dispute from the point at which it first arises until it is finally resolved. Litigation is the most formalised example of dispute resolution, but there are numerous alternatives which are grouped together as Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution can be the most informal actions. For instance, a chat over a fence with a neighbour about an overhanging tree is a form of dispute resolution. This type of negotiation avoids the drama and expense of formal litigation. If a simple conversation does not resolve a dispute, then the next step may be to ask a solicitor to write a letter that sets out your position, requesting a certain outcome from the other party.

When direct negotiation does not lead to a resolution, then the involvement of a neutral third party can be of great assistance. For instance, a mediator can look impartially at the situation and help each party see the other’s position. The mediator will not make the decision for the parties but will try and help the parties reach a compromise. With good will, a mediation is often successful in reaching an outcome satisfactory to both parties.

When the parties cannot reach an agreement themselves, they can ask a third party to make the decision. For instance, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is an independent tribunal that resolves disputes on a range of matters including tenancy disputes, consumer disputes, disputes between neighbours, and minor debt disputes. Although parties represent themselves at QCAT, you can seek legal advice before lodging your application so that you can put forward the strongest possible case.

What is Litigation?

When all else fails, litigation is often the only option left. In litigation, the parties give over their power to the court to make a decision about the outcome of their dispute. This outcome can be enforced by the courts, ensuring that the dispute is fully resolved.

When the parties want or need to keep a relationship going in the future (such as with co-parents or neighbours), litigation should be a last resort. However, when the parties have very different perspectives, litigation might be the only way to resolve a dispute. For instance, you may need to apply to the court to recover a debt, because the debtor may intend to avoid paying indefinitely.

Our dispute resolution team is experienced, practical and outcome focused. We can help with a range of disputes including:

  • Contract disputes – breach of contract / performance / default
  • Building and construction disputes
  • Shareholder and partnership disputes
  • Land disputes including dividing fences
  • Property disputes including commercial and retail leasing disputes
  • Debt recovery and insolvency
  • Consumer disputes including product liability
  • Defamation matters
  • Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) claims
  • Administrative appeals and judicial review

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 07 4063 5900 for expert legal advice.